From the “muscle cars make you a petro-masculine misogynist” department comes this inane study that you just have to shake your head at. Published in SAGE Journals, of course it is paywalled. h/t to WUWT readers Robert Koeneke and Robert Balic,
Petro-masculinity: Fossil Fuels and Authoritarian Desire
As the planet warms, new authoritarian movements in the West are embracing a toxic combination of climate denial, racism and misogyny. Rather than consider these resentments separately, this article interrogates their relationship through the concept of petro-masculinity, which appreciates the historic role of fossil fuel systems in buttressing white patriarchal rule. Petro-masculinity is helpful to understanding how the anxieties aroused by the Anthropocene can augment desires for authoritarianism. The concept of petro-masculinity suggests that fossil fuels mean more than profit; fossil fuels also contribute to making identities, which poses risks for post-carbon energy politics. Moreover, through a psycho-political reading of authoritarianism, I show how fossil fuel use can function as a violent compensatory practice in reaction to gender and climate trouble.
UPDATE: Reader “Gnomish” provided a link in comments to a PDF of the paper. Here are some passages that give you a sense of the mindset of this rant given faux legitimacy by being published in a journal:
White power pledges, breakfast cereals and masturbation may at first appear as adolescent pranks, but in the context of Trump’s America, they are all too serious. As initiation rites, they adhere to Theweleit’s analysis of the bodily practices of proto-fascist groups.By staying calm during beatings and limiting masturbation (making the body rigid), Proud Boys aim to enhance their masculinity, and in turn to become more successful with ‘real’women, who nevertheless remain, as among the freikorps, off-screen and imagined figures who threaten humiliation. Lurking behind the tactics of rigidity is a sense of personal failure; a shared frustration among white men who have struggled to find a housewife willing to receive their veneration.
Petro: both hard and soft. Both the solidification of toxic masculinity, and the grimy, deathly flows (oil, gas) let loose as psychological compensation for that self-discipline. Like the freikorps’ cruelty, or the clamour to torture detainees after September 11 analysed by Robin, burning fossil fuels in an age of global warming can offer a compensatory practice of violence. Fossil fuel systems provide a domain for explosive letting go, and all the pleasures that come with it – drilling, digging, fracking, mountaintop removal, diesel trucks. In the words of Sarah Palin, ‘drill, baby, drill!’61
Helpfully, the aesthetics of fossil fuels – most particularly oil – are ripe for recoding as expressions of sexualised power and orgasmic satisfaction. The parallels between rape and extractivism have been well documented.62 Stephanie LeMenager writes of ‘oil’s primal associations with earth’s body, therefore with the permeability, excess, and multiplicity of all bodies’, such that ‘the spectacle of [oil’s] gushing from the earth suggests divine or Satanic origins, a givenness that confers upon it an inherent value disassociated from social relations’.63 In Upton Sinclair’s novel, Oil!, too, LeMenager observes how a gushing well becomes an orgasmic woman (‘There she came!’), while ‘for a thirteenyear-old male narrator, industrial-scale pollution and waste translate into arousal and premature ejaculation’.64
When petro-masculinity is at stake, climate denial is thus best understood through desire, rather than as a failure of scientific communication or reason. In other words, an attachment to the righteousness of fossil fuel lifestyles, and to all the hierarchies that depend upon fossil fuel, produces a desire to not just deny, but to refuse climate change. Refusing climate change is distinct from ignoring climate change, which is effectively what many people who otherwise acknowledge its reality do.76 Ignoring can be dangerous, too, but it is a passive disposition, often connected to emotions of frustration or confusion, or even fear. Refusal is active. Angry. It demands struggle. In the case of climate change, by refusing it, one also subscribes to an accelerated investment in petrocultures. Refusal can no longer rest at defending the status quo but must proceed to intensifying fossil fuel systems to the last moment, which will often require resorting to authoritarian politics.
This is better reading anyways:
In the 1960s, three incendiary ingredients–developing V-8 engine technology, a culture consumed by the need for speed, and 75 million baby boomers entering the auto market—exploded in the form of the factory muscle car. The resulting vehicles, brutal machines unlike any the world had seen before or will ever see again, defined the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll generation.
American Muscle Cars chronicles this tumultuous period of American history through the primary tool Americans use to define themselves: their automobiles. From the street-racing hot rod culture that emerged following World War II through the new breed of muscle cars still emerging from Detroit today, this book brings to life the history of the American muscle car.
Apparently the author of the study wouldn’t like this book either.